December 30, 2017

December 30

Filed under: Uncategorized — theresaurus @ 11:52 pm

From Suzuki Bokushi’s “Snow Country Tales, Life in the Other Japan”:

“… New Year always finds us still buried beneath the snow. Special efforts are made to dig away the snow and let in as much light as possible through the window to brighten the New Year’s festivities, but everyone is so busy with the rest of the holiday preparations that there is no time to haul away the accumulated snow. It is packed hastily on to the elevated snow pathways that run between the houses, higher than their roofs in many places, and naturally many slippery dangerous spots are bound to appear. One year on New Year’s Eve I set out with my fellow poet and friend, Tokakushi, to pay a visit to the editor of a collection of poems … . Our host was delighted to see us and went on and on about how auspicious a visit like ours was on the eve of the New Year.

“As the talk wandered pleasantly from topic to topic, my host’s wife addressed a question directly to me: ‘I’ve heard that in Edo there are exorcists who go from house to house on the eve of the New Year and warn that demons are bound to make their appearance that night. … ‘Have you ever seen a demon?’ ‘Quite a few of them exist, believe me,’ Tokakushi replied. ‘When I lived in Edo, I saw an exorcist catch a demon and toss him into the western ocean with a big kerplash!’ … Although both the daughter and daughter-in-law pretended not to believe a word he said … they … were visibly frightened.

“Just then there was a great crash as the window behind them burst open and an avalanche of snow came thundering into the room, carrying with it a dark figure amidst the heaps of packed ice and snow. At this the women shrieked … shaking in terror. … And now, as all stared at the strange creature buried in the heaps of packed snow from the collapsed pathway outside, they recognized the little blind masseur Fukuichi (whose name … means ‘Good Fortune’), a frequent visitor to their home.”

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